New Delhi: Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan’s conviction in a hate speech case for comments on Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath was set aside by a court on Wednesday, May 24. His earlier conviction in the case had led to his disqualification as an MLA from the Rampur Sadar constituency, and the BJP’s victory in a subsequent bypoll.
According to Bar and Bench, additional district and sessions judge Amitveer Singh overturned the October 2022 verdict by a special MP/MLA court in Rampur. The special court convicted him and sentenced him to three years in jail in October 2022.
The case against the Samajwadi Party leader was registered at Rampur on April 9, 2019, for alleged provocative remarks against Yogi Adityanath and then district magistrate Aunjaneya Kumar Singh. The case invoked Sections 153-A (promoting enmity between groups), 505-1 (Statements conducing to public mischief; making, publishing or circulating any statement, rumour or report) of the Indian Penal Code, and Section 125 of the Representation of People Act, 1951.
The first information report was registered on the basis of a complaint filed by a local BJP leader.
Speaking to the Indian Express, Khan’s advocate Zubair Ahmad said the legal team is planning the next course of action. “My client has been acquitted by the additional district and sessions court. He was accused of giving hate speech… The session court has considered the lower court order wrong and said the prosecution couldn’t prove its case,” the lawyer said.
He told the newspaper that in the same case, Khan had “spent considerable time in prison”. Ahmad told IE, “Because of the conviction in the same case, he lost his membership (to the Assembly) and by-elections were held here. Because of the same case, his name was struck off from the electoral rolls later. The verdict has come, and our entire legal team will do research on this and decide the next course of action.”
The bypoll, held on December 8, 2022, saw Khan’s close confidant Asim Raja defeated by the BJP’s Akash Saxena by a huge margin. His son Abdullah Azam Khan was disqualified from the assembly in February 2023 after he was sentenced to two years imprisonment in a 15-year-old case of blocking traffic. In the bypoll in the Suar constituency, BJP ally Apna Dal’s Shafiq Ahmed Ansari won.